Although it is not always true, more often than not if a parent likes to read, a child will often grow to be a reader, as well. In the case of children’s author Lauri Fortino, it was having a poet in the house that inspired her to be a writer!
Growing up, Lauri’s grandmother Harriet Whipple lived with her family. Harriet was a self-taught poet who was published in newspapers and magazines. As Lauri explains in our interview on the Reading Tub website, her grandmother was also a pretty good artist and “self published” author who wrote stories and bound them into books.
Lauri also loves to read! She works at a public library in Syracuse, NY, where she reads LOTS of picture books … so many that she had a hard time listing her favorites! She also reviews many of those books on her blog: Frog on a (B)log. Lauri’s first book, The Peddler’s Bed, is about … well I’ll let Lauri tell you!
RT: When I explore The Peddler’s Bed I see other picture books, in theme, vocabulary choice, and illustration. For example, I can see Geppetto from Pinocchio in your little man. As you explore the book, what other children’s classics do you see?
Lauri: Oh, I’d love to hear more about what other children’s books The Peddler’s Bed evokes! In the illustrations, I see a similarity between the peddler and the hungry fox in William Steig’s The Amazing Bone. The colorful trees remind me a bit of the truffula trees in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
RT: There is such a timeless, classic feel to The Peddler’s Bed. I can definitely see William Steig, too. The story’s message of kindness is easily recognized, but the book ends with a subtlety that may be missed. Did you already know the ending before you wrote the book?
Lauri: Yes, I knew the ending before I even wrote the story. For most of my stories, I usually have the ending and the beginning worked out before I even begin writing. Filling in the middle is the most challenging for me.
RT: How many stories to you have on your storyboard?
Lauri: I have dozens of story ideas … more than 100 written in my idea notebook. I also have about 20 completed picture book manuscripts and several more in various stages of development.
RT: Between your stories and your blog, you must be writing all the time. Speaking of reviews … a few of the online reviews (Amazon.com) mentioned the “wordiness” of your story as something to be aware of in selecting The Peddler’s Bed for young audiences.
I personally didn’t see that and would have “missed it” had I not read reviews after the fact. What advice would you offer for adults who may have a reader who doesn’t sit still and (as a result) shy away from books with more text?
Lauri: The average word count for a picture book these days is about 500 words. The Peddler’s Bed is between 700 and 800 words, which is on the higher end of the spectrum. The story moves along at a nice pace.
For children who struggle to sit nicely for a wordier book – or any book – I would say “don’t give up.” Share the book in different ways. Try making up your own story to go with the pictures, or just enjoy the pictures together. When the child’s a bit older or less squirmy and ready to sit for longer periods of time, introduce the text.
RT: With my own always-busy daughter, I just kept reading. She’d move about and listen, and when something caught her eye, she’d come over to sit with me to look at the pictures! I could definitely see her coming over to listen for those squeaks! Something else I would do is have books on CD.
Lauri: Yes, that is a great option! There are two Soundcloud versions of The Peddler’s Bed that were created as part of two programs offered by my public library. Each is about five minutes long, which gives you a good idea of how long it takes to read the book. What I especially love is that multiple readers tell the story, which gives the characters and narrator individual voices.
One is read by an actor’s table reading program for adults and the other is read by a children’s reader theater program. I like that they can add an additional way for readers to hear the story. The recordings were created from scripts from the book. Even though they don’t follow the book word-for-word, children can stil enjoy them in conjunction with the book by looking at the illustrations.
RT: I recently posted some ideas on how audiobooks can help young readers on Facebook, so thank you for letting us know about those Soundclouds!
There is more to our interview with Lauri Fortino! Visit the Reading Tub to see
- Learn about Lauri’s favorite books as a child.
- Discover the authors and illustrators she loves now.
- See more of Bong Redila’s images from The Peddler’s Bed.
- Find out about Finley, the mascot for her blog.
Connect with Lauri Fortino
Frog on a (B)log: https://frogonablog.net/
Lauri Fortino’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13574226.Lauri_Fortinohttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13574226.Lauri_Fortino